AFP
Wire Service
2 minute read
31 Jul 2021
11:03 am

Israel pushes for UN action against Iran over deadly ship attack

AFP

Two crew members died after the MT Mercer Street tanker was attacked in the northern Indian Ocean, in what appeared to be a drone strike.

The MT Mercer Street tanker was attacked in the northern Indian Ocean on Thursday. Photo: Johan Victor/Marine Traffic

Israel’s foreign minister said he has ordered the nation’s diplomats to push for UN action against Iran over a deadly attack on a ship managed by an Israeli billionaire.

The MT Mercer Street tanker was attacked in the northern Indian Ocean on Thursday, killing two crew members, in what the United States said appeared to be a drone strike.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but maritime industry analysts Dryad Global said “this latest attack has the hallmarks of the ongoing Israel/Iran ‘shadow war'”.

“I’ve instructed the embassies in Washington, London and the UN to work with their interlocutors in government and the relevant delegations in the UN headquarters in New York,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Friday on Twitter.

“Iran is not just an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terrorism, destruction and instability that are hurting us all.

“We must never remain silent in the face of Iranian terrorism, which also harms freedom of navigation,” the top diplomat added.

Lapid said he had also spoken to his British counterpart Dominic Raab, and mentioned “the need to respond severely to the attack on the ship in which a British citizen was killed”.

The Mercer Street, an oil products tanker, was travelling from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates with no cargo aboard when it was struck, its Israeli operator said.

Zodiac Maritime, a London-based operator owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer, said the attack killed a Romanian and a British citizen.

The US military said that early indications “clearly point” to a drone strike on the Mercer Street, a Japanese-owned tanker flying a Liberian flag.

Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam state TV channel, citing “informed regional sources”, said the attack was a “response to a recent Israeli attack” targeting an airport in central Syria where Iran is backing the regime.

Zodiac Maritime said a US naval escort was protecting the damaged ship as it steamed to “a safe location”.

The strike on the tanker comes as European powers meet with Iran in an effort to shore up a 2015 agreement to curtail the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions.

The accord was strained when in 2018 former US President Donald Trump withdrew the US unilaterally and reimposed sanctions.

Negotiations in Vienna, where the US is indirectly taking part, have stalled ahead of the August inauguration of newly elected ultra-conservative Iranian president Ebrahim Raissi.